Santa Fe Pro Mu­sica

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Scot­tish He­brides He­brides, Scot­tish He­brides Over­ture,

The Santa Fe Pro Mu­sica Orches­tra is em­barked on multi-year search for the per­son who will re­place Thomas O’Con­nor as mu­sic di­rec­tor when he re­tires a cou­ple of years hence. The ap­pear­ances of guest con­duc­tors over­see­ing many of the group’s con­certs this sea­son are the pub­lic por­tion of their job in­ter­views, and their work will there­fore carry con­sid­er­able con­se­quence.

Last week­end’s pro­gram at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter was en­trusted to Ruth Rein­hardt, who has most re­cently served as as­sis­tant con­duc­tor of the Dal­las Sym­phony Orches­tra. An as­sis­tant con­duc­tor­ship is a com­mon ca­reer step for young con­duc­tors, pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to ob­serve sea­soned prac­ti­tion­ers close-up, to step in dur­ing emer­gen­cies, and to lead oc­ca­sional per­for­mances them­selves — of­ten youth or com­mu­nity con­certs, some­times a full sub­scrip­tion week. Rein­hardt’s con­duct­ing here sug­gested that she is on just the track she should be, but that she is prob­a­bly not ready for a full mu­sic di­rec­tor­ship of her own.

Her pro­gram of Men­delssohn chest­nuts — the E-mi­nor Vi­o­lin Con­certo, and Sym­phony — did not present great tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, but the con­cert suf­fered from rough edges all the same. Rein­hardt ap­par­ently spent the avail­able re­hearsal time plot­ting ideas about the phras­ing of melodies. That is a good thing in prin­ci­ple, but the in­ter­pre­ta­tions ended up be­ing about the trees rather than the for­est. The was in­trigu­ing at its open­ing, unusu­ally slow, with a mys­te­ri­ous, aquatic char­ac­ter; but be­fore long Scot­land’s shores were be­set by quick­sand. Or­ches­tral bal­ances were of­ten out of whack; for­tu­nately, ex­cel­lent solo work from clar­inetist Michael An­der­son shone through.

The Sym­phony was sim­i­larly muddy, with winds and strings rarely meld­ing fe­lic­i­tously. The trum­pet sec­tion, which had per­formed poorly in the now played worse. That is not Rein­hardt’s fault, but her job was to make the best she could of the en­sem­ble she faced. One would have ex­pected her to rein in those play­ers as much as pos­si­ble to dis­guise short­com­ings, and that she did not do. Nu­mer­ous bumpy en­trances — and some out-and-out er­ro­neous ones — marred this mid­dle-of-the-road in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Such things might have been avoided through more dis­tinct ba­ton tech­nique. In fact, I did not en­tirely un­der­stand why Rein­hardt uses a ba­ton; she lim­its its ac­tiv­ity mostly to the bulb end, where she grips it, sac­ri­fic­ing the po­ten­tial ex­pres­sive­ness of the ba­ton’s tip. She tends to dance on the podium, bob­bing at the knees, al­most con­duct­ing with the torso as much as with the hands — not a path to pre­ci­sion.

The soloist in the E-mi­nor Vi­o­lin Con­certo was Ariel Horowitz, who grad­u­ated from The Juil­liard School in 2017 and is now pur­su­ing grad­u­ate stud­ies at the Yale School of Mu­sic. Again, it was a case of an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian with am­ple room for devel­op­ment. Her tim­bre was at­trac­tive and she had the con­certo’s notes well in hand. In­ac­cu­ra­cies of in­to­na­tion in the up­per reg­is­ter, par­tic­u­larly when ap­proached through ris­ing arpeg­gios, re­quire ur­gent at­ten­tion. The Men­delssohn con­certo is a mar­vel — no doubt about it — but one of its chal­lenges is that it can eas­ily ap­pear glib. Horowitz rev­eled in the smooth­ness of its sur­face, but her in­ter­pre­ta­tion might have made greater im­pact if she had at­tacked some of its de­tails with more gusto, if she had found op­por­tu­ni­ties to rough it up a bit. As it was, the piece came across as pleas­ant but con­veyed lit­tle emo­tional char­ac­ter. She was not helped by some un­cer­tain co­or­di­na­tion with the orches­tra, par­tic­u­larly at the open­ing of the third move­ment. — James M. Keller

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